I thought my husband wasn’t remembering correctly when he said that his grandfather had to raise his fences from eight to ten feet in order to keep the deer out of his strawberries.
He was Albert Morris, who for years raised strawberries in Sweet Valley, PA. I felt doubtful that deer could jump over fences eight feet tall. To me, that seemed awfully high. Then I checked the internet and found that the white tail deer are able to jump not 5, 7, 8 or 12 feet but 15 feet high. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see? The deer, however, prefer to go through, around or under a fence, unless of course they are being chased by a dog or coyote.
Until recent years, I have always loved the white tail deer. Lately, though, there is an overabundance of them and I have great difficulty keeping them from destroying my flower gardens. If I were to plant pansies, which I have done many years about this time, the deer grab the plant in their mouths and uproot it completely. Then all through the summer they find nearly all my flowers very tasty, even the rose bushes.
People here have always been impressed with the beauty of the white tail and its swift,
running ability. Years ago, they were not so plentiful and my boyfriend and I, (now my husband) would travel the country roads in his 1941 Ford spotting deer. I’m not sure this was legal, but attached to the driver’s side of the Ford was a large, shiny spot light put there for that purpose. To get the light installed a hole was drilled through the corner post of the car. An added twist to this story is the fact that his grandparents, Albert and Maude Morris, gave the spotlight light to him as a high school graduation gift. Many men used the spot lights to search out deer prior to hunting season, but that was not our reason for doing it. It was a challenge to find them feeding in open fields. We stayed away from houses. We didn’t think a spot light illuminating their property would go over very well.
During the summers, as we turn into our driveway, our headlights reveal at least a half dozen of them out to pasture in our yard. I’ve always marveled at their beauty but lately my love for them has waned and I am sure you know why. Not all deer are infected with ticks, but many are and these ticks transmit Lyme Disease. I read where roughly 20,000 people are affected by the disease. I have heard of many cases and because it is a inflammatory disease it spreads to the joints, nervous system and other organs. If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics Lyme Disease is almost always readily cured. But I have talked to some who were not fortunate enough to catch it early.
There are many guidelines on how to protect our families from this. But isn’t it shameful that we can no longer trust our children to be safe in public places and now, in our own back yards. Some of the guidelines include avoiding wooded, bushy areas and high grass, do a complete full body check on yourself, children and pets and carry bug spray.
There may be some parts of the country that are less infected and some where the problem is far greater than here in Pennsylvania. While living there throughout the winter, I saw something of interest in Florida. It was a sign placed at the entrance of a beautiful housing compound. It read. “Deer Restricted.” I wondered how this could be, then noticed the whole development was surrounded with a tall, concrete wall.
To digress a bit here, did you read the story about a wild deer breaking into the lion exhibit at the Smithsonian Park National Zoo? What did the lions do? They did what came naturally. They pursued it until they were called back into their enclosure. They were highly trained lions. The main reason for ending their hunt was because the deer might spread disease to the zoo animals. The lions’ hunt for live prey ended, but the injured deer couldn’t be saved.
I don’t like ending Shirl And You on a negative note but this subject does not end here. A quick-moving, potentially fatal virus has been found in the Northeast and Great Lakes areas of the U.S. It is carried and transferred to people and pets by ticks. The Powassan virus causes similar symptoms but more severe and without any cure. The disease is quite rare, but doctors are urging people to do everything they can to prevent being infected. Everyone is being encouraged to look up procedures on how to correctly remove ticks and to be on
guard for them. How can the beautiful, harmless creatures of yesteryear become something to fear today? Do you have a story to tell on this subject. I’d love to hear from you.